Customize Shipping Room Desks to Optimize Shipping/Receiving Tasks

Workstations make a difference, and standard, off-the-shelf shipping room desks could be cutting into your productivity in more ways than one.

People think of ergonomic improvements in the workplace as benefitting the employees. While that's undeniably true, that doesn't mean that employers don't benefit as well—and we're not just talking about reductions in sick days and injuries. By eliminating the need for inefficient and often repetitive movements, ergonomic improvements can increase worker productivity.

So, if ergonomics is a magic bullet that keeps staff healthy and increases productivity, why don't all warehouses embrace it? The answer is that improving ergonomics is not a magic bullet at all, but an ongoing process to identify and eliminate unsafe and inefficient practices.

That can be a demanding and complicated process. However, within that ongoing process are a number of easy opportunities to improve ergonomics by investing in customized equipment.

A shipping-room desk can be your central distribution center or a bottleneck.

Is there any worse station in your warehouse for a bottleneck than the shipping-room desk? Order fulfillment can be delayed when this crucial station is under-manned or inefficient, and that's bad for the bottom line.

Simple adjustments in the configuration of a Shipping/Receiving Desk can have outsized impacts on efficiency. Imagine a scanner placed on the right side of a left-handed worker's desk. An activity that an employee performs perhaps thousands of times per day may require an awkward motion that adds extra seconds and extra strain to the task. Over the course of a day, those inefficiencies add up.

A fully customized shipping workstation can minimize strain on workers while speeding up order fulfillment.


Order fulfillment workers are susceptible to a number of repetitive-motion injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, and trigger finger can all occur at higher-than-average rates at a shipping desk.

Customized equipment can't eliminate all of these issues—task rotation may be necessary to give proper breaks for workers. However, a custom-built shipping desk can eliminate many unnecessary movements.

To get the most benefits, study how workers use your current shipping/receiving area.

Do you notice any obvious inefficiencies? If a worker has to reach to the top shelf to access a label roll, that could be an opportunity for an ergonomic improvement. Simply moving the label roll to a more central location could speed up work while minimizing repetitive motions.

The biggest impact may occur by configuring a station for the dominant hand of the worker. Positioning the scanner, scale, and monitor in the most efficient way for a lefty or a righty can greatly reduce strain and unnecessary motion.

Desks with built-in configurability give the greatest potential to improve ergonomics. Detachable monitor and keyboard mounts allow employees to adjust their setup when doing so improves the workflow. Adjustable shelves and dividers give workers further control over how they interact with their station.

Improving ergonomics requires monitoring habits and adjusting accordingly.

Equipment plays an important role in improving ergonomics. Small adjustments in configurations can greatly improve efficiency and make a worker's job easier.

Of course, workers still need breaks from repetitive tasks to prevent injuries and strains. And managers should continually observe processes to check for new inefficiencies that may arise. However, a fully customized shipping-room desk with adjustable components is a great start to a more ergonomic workplace.

"Ergonomics." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.